Category — Featured Articles
- patents are too easy to get
- many are trivial and do not pass the non-obvious test;
- the length of patent protection, especially in the context of the Internet and fast changing industries like the video game industry, is too long;
- the cost of defending a patent infringement suit is too high with the result that marginal patents are frequently not tested;
- to determine whether a prospective idea is obvious, and therefor patentable, it should be submitted for peer review as part of the patent prosecution process rather than the current system of testing for obviousness through the costly judicial process after a patent is granted; and
- the length of patent protection should be different for different types of patents.
Love’m or hate’m, video game patents have played an important role in the evolution of the video game industry.
Ross Dannenberg and Steve Chang of Banner & Witcoff, Ltd have put together this terrific feature article: “The Ten Most Important Video Game Patents” for Gamasutra. In assessing the patents’ importance, they used four criteria:
- Relativity to Video Games
- Financial Value
- Technological Importance
- The IT-Factor
The winning patents honored/discussed in the piece are:
- Nintendo’s NES – Game Cartridge Lock Patent (U.S. Pat. No. 4,799,635)
- Alpex’s Patent Covering RAM-based Screen Mapping (U.S. Pat. No. 4,026,555)
- Immersion’s Force Feed-back Patents (U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,275,213 and 6,424,333)
- Freedom Wave’s Wireless Controller Patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 6,280,327 and 6,878,006)
- Sega’s ‘Crazy Taxi’ Direction Indicator Patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,200,138)
- Koei’s Grouped Character Battle Method Patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,729,954)
- Interlink’s Motion Sensing (a.k.a. WiiMote) Patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,850,221)
- The Pong Patent (U.S. Patent No. RE28,507)
Check it out, its a good read.
Also, FYI, I have discovered Ross’ Patent Arcade blog where, among other things, he tracks Video Game Lawsuits. For your future reference I have added it to my “Video Game Law Blogs” roll down the right side of my blog (after “Topics”).
For years I have called for video-download services to be provided directly to a TV-connected consumer electronics product such as the Xbox, TiVo or PS3. This Variety article discusses how the Xbox 360's new Internet-based video-on-demand service is having relative success (where others have failed) due to its available HD content and its direct connection to the TV.
The relative success of video downloads on Microsoft's Xbox Live and disappointment of Amazon.com's Unbox point to two factors that differentiate Xbox from Amazon and its many other competitors — consumers who download a movie want a simple way to watch it on their TV, and those with high-def TVs want high-def content.
A primary reason for its success lies also in the fact that DRM is not a relevant consideration for most users when the content is delivered directly to the display unit of choice. iVOD services to PCs have largely failed because most people do not want to watch TV and movies on their computers. And the DRM used by most of those services preclude users from copying the movie onto a DVD for playback where they want to watch them – in the living room.
FYI: Joystiq has a pretty good preview of the system here including a YouTube demo. Note that the demo was done early-on. As I understand it the slow-downloads and other glitches experienced in the early days have been resolved.
Categories: Featured Articles
Below are a few of the major game publications' "best of"/"most important" game roundups for 2006 (and their top title in parenthesis):
- 1Up.com (voting still ongoing as of Dec. 27 – click the link to vote)
- Fox News (Oblivion)
- Gamasutra (Wii Sports)
- Gamespot (Gears of War)
- GameSpy (The Legend of Zelda)
- Geekzine.com (Gears of War)
- IGN (Best Overall Game to be announced on January 12)
- Next Generation.bi (Gears of War)
- Spike Game Awards (Oblivion)
- Team Xbox (Gears of War)
Here’s a Summary of the Interactive Pie Chart:
- 25%/$15 – Art Design
- 20%/$12 – Programming and Engineering
- 20%/$12 – Retailer’s Cut
- 11.5%/$7 – Console Owner Fees (to Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony)
- 7%/$4 – Marketing Costs
- 5%/$3 – Marketing Development Fund (print circulars/banner ads, etc.)
- 5%/$3 – Manufacturing Costs, Packaging
- 5%/$3 – Licensing Fees (personality rights, character and story licenses, copyrights, trademarks, etc.)
- 1.5%/$1 – Publisher Profit
- 1.5%/$1 – Distributor Fees
- 0.3%/20¢ – Corporate costs (management, overhead, legal fees )
- 0.05%/3¢ – Hardware Development Costs (Developer kits, demo units etc.)
GameIndustry.biz Article: "The Evolution of Distribution". This GameIndustry.biz feature article discusses Introversion Software's fierce independence and success with digital game distribution.
A related article is “My Three Trials” by Bill Kunkel where he describes his experiences as an expert witness in three historic video game trials. The Article is in three pieces:
Click here to read this article on the pros and cons of developing games under license from others.
This is a terrific article that I had to pass on. It outlines many of the pet-peeves that us gamers have with game developers – the many cheats used by developers to save time, artificially expand game play etc. Gamers hate these things. Game developers should take a serious look at this list.
I most relate to:
- Item 6 – Save Points: Since all consoles in this generation have hard drives, there is no excuse not to have user-selectable save points. I am an adult. If I found it fun and challenging to play an entire levels without saving, I could choose to do that. But I submit that the increasingly aging gamer demographic does not find it fun to play the same thing over and over due to deficient save point planning by game developers. The lack of decent autosave points or user selectable save-points is the primary reason I abandon otherwise good games.
- Item 12, para 7 – Unnecessarily Difficult End Levels: I thoroughly enjoyed Gears of War and had EVERY intention of playing the entire game again on the harder level until I had to fight RAAM (the final boss) over and over and over. It took me hours to figure out what was necessary to kill this guy. The arbitrariness of this fight is silly in the extreme. The game gives you no indication as to what is required to kill him and how much effort, of which type, it will take to kill him. This final boss fight was so off-putting that I no longer intend to play the game through on the harder level because the last thing I want is to finish the game and find I can’t kill the final boss on the harder level. Cliffy! Watch the end of Halo 1 for an example of a perfect ending level! Back to EB goes Gears for trade-in!
I would also add:
- Escort Missions Should be Outlawed: If the character being escorted would actually accept orders from the player to hide somewhere, stay behind until beckoned, shoot at the enemy etc. it wouldn’t be so bad. But too many games require the gamer to escort a hapless character that will not take direction and repeatedly gets himself/herself killed for no fault of the gamer.
I can’t complain about the “Short-sighted Business Bull***” mentioned in item 15. If this were solved there would be almost no raison d’etre for this blog. And, as for me, wooden crates really don’t bother me all that much!
Warning!: The author uses both humorous and explicit language in this manifesto.
Media Forensics offers to examine independent developers’ distribution contracts and sniff out unpaid or underpaid royalties.
Sources: Next Generation
Dan Bradbury writes an interesting piece in Backbone Magazine about the virtual goings on in MMORPGs and some of the legal implications. Among other things he discusses Mark Bragg's virtual property case and a virtual "mafia" of sorts in Second Life where users take it upon themselves to enforce the rules within the virtual world when no other recourse is available.
Source: Backbone Magazine
A phenomena of the recent three console launches (Xbox 360, PSP, DS, PS3 and Wii) is the mandatory bundling foisted on gamers by retailers looking to cash in on the extremely high demand for these consoles on launch.
GameDaily.biz has a feature article “Predatory Packaging: Are You Being Illegally Forced into Buying a Mega Console Bundle?“ on this topic is worth a read.
According to Bob Freitas, a technology and antitrust litigator and partner in Orrick’s Silicon Valley office, it’s possible that these bundles could violate certain anti-trust laws, but it’s not highly likely he explained.
This Gamasutra feature article is a very interesting article on the Effects of ‘Hot Coffee’ on the game modding scene. Mods can inprove and extend the life of video games but since Hot Coffee, there is a keen awareness of the liability that game modding can expose developers and publishers to.
‘Hot Coffee’ Related Posts:
- Hot Coffee’s Effects on the Mod Scene (October 27, 2006)
- ESRB Demands U.S. Game Publisher Audits for Hidden Game Content (September 12, 2005)
- ESRB Re-Rates Oblivion to Mature Following 3rd Party Mods (May 3, 2006)
- Take-Two Filing Reveals Multiple Lawsuits (February 1, 2006)
- Hot Coffee Spills into Australia as GTA:San Andreas is Banned (August 1, 2005)
- GTA San Andreas Rerated AO, Take-Two Suspends Production (July 20, 2005)
- Confirmed: ‘Hot Coffee’ Sex Minigame in PS2 GTA: San Andreas (July 15, 2005)
Categories: Featured Articles
Source: Gamasutra Feature Article
In December of 2005 GameCloud interviewed Florida game attorney Tom Buscaglia on a number of game law related topics. I thought the interview was interesting. In particular his answers to questions 3, 4 and 5 about common business and IP problems that game developers run into in the early stages of a game development studio. New game developers often fail to properly secure the intellectual property rights needed/used in a game. They also often fail to deal with the issues needed to sustain a viable business. Creating a great game alone is not sufficient to create a sustainable game development studio.
Attorney Tom Buscaglia explains the reason why game development contracts are so complex.
GAMASUTRA FEATURE: “The marketing plan is your flightplan on how to get your game to your players. The contents of a marketing plan can be divided into several sections. A strategic plan or the company’s business plan will describe the company’s strategic objectives. The marketing plan will focus on those major objectives, and how to reach those goals.”
This GameDaily.biz feature presents Careen Yapp’s (VP of Licensing and Business Development for D3 Publisher) thoughts on how publishers make their decisions to take on a developer and what developers should understand when preparing a presentation to a publisher.
Dale’s Comment: Gamasutra also included a recent “Feature” entitled “Pitching Your Game to a Publisher”. While less informative, it is amusing!
(first published October 2, 2003)
Text of Paper
Abstract: Recent efforts to limit the access of children to violent video games have faced legal challenge under the First Amendment. This article presents three theories that may provide defenses to constitutional challenges. The evidence of harmful effects is examined to argue that limitations may meet strict scrutiny. The theory that violence may fit within harmful to minors statutes ordinarily directed at pornography is also presented. Lastly, the argument that video game play is not expression protected by the amendment is explored.”.
Attorney Tom Buscaglia discusses some of the advantages of digital distribution for today’s video game developer – including higher profits, retention of IP rights and new funding models.
Related Stories: GameIndustry.biz